United States District Court, D. New Jersey
MEMORANDUM & ORDER
William H. Walls, United States District Judge.
matter has been opened to the Court by Petitioner Courtney
Shorter's submission of a "Motion for Leave to File
for Sanctions against the Government for Failing to Comply
with the Court's Order to [R]espond to his 2255 Petition
and to [E]nter Default Judgment" (Civ. Act. No. 16-1267,
ECF No. 26), and his Reply Brief, which was docketed as a new
habeas petition by the Clerk's Office. (See Civ.
Act. No. 17-4476, at ECF No. 1.) It appearing that:
Petitioner's § 2255 motion in Civil Action Number
16-1267 was initially docketed on March 4, 2016, and his
amended § 2255 motion was docketed on May 24, 2016. (ECF
Nos. 1, 4.) The Court ordered the government to file an
answer the motion on June 15, 2016.
government failed to respond within the time provided by the
Court's Order, and Petitioner submitted a letter
application on March 3, 2017, seeking sanctions against the
government for its failure to submit a timely answer. (ECF
No. 14.) On March 15, 2017, the government sought a 45-day
extension of time within which to answer the Petition, which
was granted by the Court on May 4, 2017. (ECF Nos. 18, 21.)
government filed its Answer on May 22, 2017. (ECF No. 22.)
June 12, 2017, Petitioner filed a motion for leave to file
for sanctions and default judgment against the government
based on the government's failure to comply with the
Court's Orders. (ECF No. 26.)
Court will deny the motion for sanctions and default
judgment. Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 55(d) states that
"[a] default judgment maybe entered against the United
States, its officers, or its agencies only if the claimant
establishes a claim or right to relief by evidence that
satisfies the court." See United States v.
Dill, 555 F.Supp.2d 514, 520 (E.D. Pa. 2008)
(movant's evidence insufficient to establish claim for
relief). Thus, "[e]ven if the Government... fail[s] to
respond to [a] § 2255 motion, it does not follow that
[the petitioner] is entitled to a default judgment."
In re West, 591 Fed.Appx. 52, 54 n.3 (3d Cir. 2015).
Moreover, as several courts have noted, the presumption
against entry of a default judgment against the government is
particularly strong when the moving party is a convicted
criminal seeking habeas relief: "[W]ere district courts
to enter default judgments without reaching the merits of [a
habeas] claim, it would be not the defaulting party but the
public at large that would be made to suffer, by bearing
either the risk of releasing prisoners that in all likelihood
were duly convicted, or the costly process of retrying
them." Bermudez v. Reid, 733 F.2d 18, 21 (2d
Cir. 1984); see also Gordon v. Duran, 895 F.2d 610,
612 (9th Cir. 1990); Aziz v. Leferve, 830 F.2d 184,
187 (11th Cir. 1987). For this reason, courts in this
District have refused motions for sanctions against the
government in § 2255 proceedings. See, e.g., Solano
v. United States, Civ. No. 13-4696, 2015 WL 5177628, at
*9 (D.N.J. Sept. 3, 2015) (Wigenton, J.); Atkins v.
United States, Civ. No. 88-5106, 1990 WL 126196, at *3
(D.N.J. Aug. 27, 1990) (Wolin, J.)
Here, the government failed to comply with the Court's
initial Order to Answer; however, it has complied with the
Court's subsequent Order to Answer, and Petitioner has
not provided any facts showing that he has been prejudiced by
the government's late filing. For these reasons, the
Court will deny the motion for sanctions and default
June 20, 2017, Petitioner submitted what appears to be his
Reply to the government's Answer. That submission was
docketed by the Clerk's Office as a new § 2255
motion. (See Civ. Act. No. 17-4476, ECF No. 1.) The
Court will direct the Clerk of the Court to docket
Petitioner's Reply (see id.) in Civil Action No.
16-1267 and close Civil Action No. 17-4476.
his Reply, Petitioner asks the Court to strike the
Government's late response to his § 2255 motion.
Pursuant to Rule 12(f) of the Federal Rules of Civil
Procedure, the "court may strike from a pleading an
insufficient defense or any redundant, immaterial,
impertinent, or scandalous matter." Motions to strike,
however "are disfavored and usually will be denied
'unless the allegations have no possible relation to the
controversy and may cause prejudice to one of the parties, or
if the allegations confuse the issues in the case.'"
Jones v. United States, No. 10-3502, 2012 WL
2340096, at *2 (D.N.J. June 18, 2012) (quoting River Road
Dev. Corp. v. Carlson Corp., No. 89-7037, 1990 WL 69085,
at *3 (E.D. Pa. May 23, 1990)). Courts have
"considerable discretion" in deciding a motion to
strike under Rule 12(f). Id. The Court finds that
there is no basis to strike the government's answer and
will deny Petitioner's request.
therefore, on this 2nd day of October 2017,
ORDERED that Petitioner's motion for
sanctions and default judgment (Civ. Act. No. 16-1267, ECF
No. 26), and his request to strike the government's
Answer are DENIED; and it is further
that the Clerk of the Court shall docket the Petitioner's
submission in Civil Action No. 17-4476 as Petitioner Reply to
the government's Answer in Civil Action No. 16-1267; and
it is further
that the Clerk of the Court shall CLOSE
Civil Action No. 17-4476; and it is further
that the Clerk of the Court shall serve a copy of this
Memorandum and Order ...